Sanchez pitches into 9th inning, Blue Jays beat Astros 6-2
TORONTO (AP) For the first time in 11 major league starts, Aaron Sanchez didn't walk anyone Friday night. Keeping his pitches in the strike zone helped keep Sanchez in the game longer than ever before.
Sanchez pitched into the ninth inning, Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista each hit a two-run homer, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Houston 6-2 to end a seven-game losing streak against the Astros.
''Our game plan was to go and attack these guys,'' Sanchez said. ''They're a very aggressive team. I figured I can attack these guys with my heater and keep the ball down in the zone they're going to hit a ton of groundballs and that's what happened.''
Sanchez (5-4) allowed one run and six hits in eight-plus innings, his longest career start. He was pulled after giving up three straight hits to start the ninth.
''He was tremendous,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ''The more he goes deeper into games, the confidence is growing, he knows he can do it.''
Roberto Osuna finished to give Toronto its first win over Houston since Aug. 1, 2014. The Blue Jays matched a season high by winning their third straight.
Sanchez was perfect until George Springer reached on an infield single to start the fourth, with Josh Donaldson's throw from third pulling Justin Smoak off the bag at first. Springer was erased when Jose Altuve followed by grounding into a double play.
''I was looking for balls right in the middle,'' Altuve said. ''That's what he did and I still couldn't hit it.''
Colby Rasmus hit a one-out single in the fifth, but the inning ended when Luis Valbuena grounded into a double play.
''That was pretty awesome stuff tonight,'' Toronto's Chris Colabello said of Sanchez. ''Every start I've seen him he's gotten better and more comfortable.''
Jason Castro hit a leadoff homer in the ninth, snapping a 21-inning scoreless streak by Blue Jays pitchers. Toronto held Washington scoreless in the final four innings of a 7-3 win in the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader, and Mark Buehrle tossed a six-hitter in Wednesday's 8-0 win over the Nationals.
Castro's homer was the first off a Toronto pitcher in 36 innings.
Reyes hit his first homer of the season in Toronto's five-run third. Donaldson followed with a single and scored when Bautista homered off the facing of the third deck in left.
Edwin Encarnacion doubled and scored on an RBI single by Colabello, Toronto's fifth straight hit off Roberto Hernandez.
Hernandez (2-5) allowed six runs, five earned, and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. The right-hander is winless in three starts and has given up 18 runs during that span.
''The big inning is getting him,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''Minimizing damage has been hard for him.''
Colabello went 3 for 4 and extended his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the majors. It's the longest streak by a Blue Jays player since Scott Rolen hit in 25 straight games in 2009.
Friday marked the 26th anniversary of the first game at Rogers Centre, which opened as SkyDome in 1989. Toronto beat Milwaukee in the inaugural game. The first big league stadium with a retractable roof, it's now the seventh-oldest facility in the majors.
Astros bench coach Trey Hillman was away Friday attending his daughter's high school graduation. He's expected to rejoin the team Saturday.
Astros: RHP Will Harris, who limped off the mound after being hit in the left foot by a broken bat Thursday, was feeling fine Friday despite minor bruising and swelling.
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis (left shoulder), who hasn't played since May 29 after feeling sore in a rehab game at Triple-A, will be reevaluated Monday. ''He's moving in the right direction,'' general manager Alex Anthopoulos said.
Astros: LHP Brett Oberholtzer (0-0, 3.24 ERA) makes his third start of the season and his first on the road. Oberholtzer has been on the disabled list twice this season with a blister on his left index finger.
Blue Jays: RHP Drew Hutchison (4-1, 5.26) was chased after 5 1-3 innings in Minnesota last week, the first time in four starts he'd failed to work at least six innings. Hutchison has been unable to reach the sixth in six of his 11 starts.